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Wednesday, May 16, 2012


This is a doodle piece I did on monocanvass
As many of you should know by now, my current novel has a theme of stitching in it. The Crystal Needle, the actual needle itself is for embroidery. In the book it is a magical tool of incredible power that has only one equal, the Obsidian needle. If you want to learn more, read the book.

I didn't just come to the idea of stitching by chance, I have been stitching since I was young. As a baby, I didn't do much of the crawling. I was a get up and go kind of kid. This meant several things; I ran into a lot of walls, I was always being chased by mom or dad or both, and I did not learn some of the basic motor skills that children learn at this stage. You may not know this, but the stage where a child is crawling and using his/her fingers a lot is the stage that they begin to refine the skills that will help them develop hand coordination. Tying shoes was a challenge, as well as other small fingering skills. This was a serious problem because both my brother and I had this issue. Luckily a doctor informed my mother than teaching us to stitch could help develop those skills. So, by the time I was in Kindergarten, I was stitching. Plastic canvass and yarn were my first tools of the trade. By the time I was in second grade, I was beating my own mother at the county Fair's arts and crafts contests.

My brother did not carry on with his stitching and I dropped it for a few years. But, once we moved to East Tennessee, we got back into the craft. Mom more so that I, but we both realized that the love of stitching was still in us. So, we joined the Embroiderers Guild of America and have not stopped stitching since. One of our friends likes to say that this is the only legal needle addiction out there.
This is a dragon pattern that I altered and stitched using basket weave.
This is the same dragon pattern, in progress, done on linen fabric with a cross stitch

Mom is much more advanced that I, but I am learning. I am good at what I do, which is cross stitch and basket weave (which is a type of stitch.) .
I have told this story before, but I think it is a good way to help understand my new book. Back a couple years ago, our EGA announced that its regional conventions theme the next year would be Magic Stitching. Their ideas were more along the lines of stage magic; top hats, bunnies, Vegas style of stuff. But, it did get me thinking. I had wanted to incorporate embroidery into my stories and this was a prime opportunity. So, I set out to write a fantasy that would bring stitching and magic together. The story would not be solely about stitching, but it would be a major part of it. Thus was created the stitching witches and their magic needles. Once I had a location, a few characters, and some back story for the people, I just let it grow on its own. Then was born The Crystal Needle. You do not have to be a devoted stitcher to like the story, in fact you really don't have to understand much about embroidery to enjoy it. But, I do hope that those who read it will explore some of the concepts mentioned and learn about one of the oldest arts in the world.

The stitching has inspired the story. This piece above is one that my mother did a number of years ago. In fact, it has been hanging in my house as long as I can remember. It won her several awards and is an incredible piece to look at in person. This is what inspired my book to begin with. At the very end, when Elsabethe mentions that there is a map that must be found, this was the map that inspired that. Oh, and yes, that is all cross stitch by hand.


  1. Dan, I enjoyed your post. I also do many kinds of needlework: knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, crewel, and more. My children all do needle work, too, so I appreciate the work that goes into your art! The map your mother did is beautiful! Your dragons, too!

    Keep it up!

  2. Wow, I know where you get your talent from Dan! That cross stitch your mother did is beautiful! I shared your blog, take care and have a great weekend Dan~